Hamsters are hassle-free, adorable pets loved by many. However, these rodents are prolific breeders, and it can be hard to tell when they’re pregnant. If this is your first time caring for a hamster—a female one—you may want to know if it’s pregnant, especially if you notice her round belly.
Here’s how you can tell if a hamster is pregnant:
- The female hamster is sexually mature.
- She was with males in the last three weeks.
- Your hamster has a swollen belly.
- You noticed she has visible nipples.
- Your hamster has been building a nest.
- She has been hoarding food.
- Your hamster is eating and drinking more than usual.
- She’s agitated and restless.
Keep reading as I discuss further how you can check if your hamster is pregnant. As a loving and responsible pet owner, this knowledge will help you support your pet and keep her safe and healthy during a time when she feels the most vulnerable.
I’ll also include tips to help you create a safe environment for the hamster pups.
How To Tell if a Hamster Is Pregnant
Here are the signs to know if a hamster is pregnant.
Since hamsters live only for about three years, they attain puberty quickly. Female hamsters reach sexual maturity at around 6 to 7 weeks of age. However, some breeds mature faster than others.
For instance, the female Syrian hamster attains sexual maturity by 4 to 6 weeks of age.
You can rule out pregnancy in your pet hamster if she is less than four weeks old. If you don’t want your hamster to get pregnant and birth pups, you should remove her from the cage and keep her separated from the males as soon as she reaches sexual maturity.
The average length of pregnancy of a hamster is about 16 days. This period varies across species. The average gestation period of the golden hamster is about 16 days. Dwarf hamsters birth their pups at around 21 days, while the Chinese and Siberian (Roborovski) hamsters take close to 23 days.
For your pet hamster to be pregnant, she’d need to have been around a male hamster within the last three weeks. If she hasn’t been in male company for over four weeks, she’s not pregnant.
You can rule out pregnancy in your mature female hamster if she has always lived alone in her cage or there are no male hamsters in your house that could have mated with her without you noticing.
Pregnant hamsters have swollen bellies. The closer your hamster is to delivering babies, the larger and more bloated her belly gets. A pregnant hamster with a swollen belly resembles a pear.
A hamster doesn’t show a baby bump until about the tenth day of gestation, meaning she’s less than a week from delivering her litter.
Sometimes, pregnant hamsters have vaginal bleeding. During the last days of the pregnancy, you might see movement inside your hamster’s belly, indicating that her babies are moving. Don’t press her belly; you might harm the pups.
However, you shouldn’t conclude that a hamster is pregnant based on her swollen belly alone. Several diseases can cause bloated bellies in female hamsters. The possible illnesses include:
- Enlarged liver or spleen usually caused by cancer
- Fluid accumulation usually caused by heart disease
- Digestion or bowel problems that can hamper the elimination of waste products
- Pyometra, which is an infection of the womb
If your hamster is suffering from any disease, you’ll likely notice other symptoms as well. These include decreased appetite, increased thirst, and weight loss, usually over the ribs.
A pregnant hamster’s nipples are swollen and dark in color. However, the hamster is a tiny animal, and the swollen nipples might not be readily apparent under the fur.
Resist from picking her up to examine if her nipples are swollen. Handling a pregnant hamster can upset the animal and make her agitated. Besides, there are several other signs to confirm pregnancy.
A pregnant hamster starts building a nest late during the pregnancy. She collects bedding material, such as wood chips, hay, or straw, and builds a nest in a secluded spot of your house or one corner of her cage. She’s building a home for her babies!
You mustn’t clean her cage during this time. But you can clean around the cage. Take care not to damage the nest.
Building a nest is usually conclusive proof that your pet hamster is pregnant. So, do the following to help make the environment safe for her and her babies:
- Provide soft bedding inside the cage. You can use paper.
- Avoid using rough, hard, or prickly material as bedding. Hamster babies are delicate.
- Ensure that the bedding is 8 cm (3.15 in) or more in height. The softer the bedding material, the safer it is for the delicate pups. You can use paper as the bedding material.
- Use a large amount of bedding material because you mustn’t clean the cage for two weeks after the babies arrive.
- Remove potentially hazardous items from the cage to protect the babies. These items include the sand bath, elevated platforms, and toys and tubes.
- Remove the hamster wheel to ensure the mother isn’t distracted from her nursing duties.
- Place objects like a cardboard box without the lid inside the cage that can function as hideouts for the pups. Mother hamsters are known to hide their babies to protect them from predators.
After building a nest, a pregnant hamster gets busy hoarding food. She “knows” that she’ll need to conserve her energy to nurse her pups and not expend too much of it foraging for food.
If you’re reasonably sure that your hamster is pregnant, you must support her during the pregnancy and after she has given birth. Below are tips on caring for your hamster during and after pregnancy:
You can feed your hamster with high-protein foods like boiled eggs, cooked, unseasoned chicken breasts, and lab blocks. Also, feed her food with high-moisture content, such as cabbage and cucumber.
Try the Wild Harvest Advanced Nutrition Diet for Hamsters and Gerbils (available on Amazon.com). It contains ingredients found in nature and mimics a hamster’s natural diet.
After her litter is born, you must leave her and her babies alone for about two weeks. So, before the pups are born, ensure that you stock her cage with food to last for two weeks.
Try Kaytee Pro Health Mouse, Rat, and Hamster Food (available on Amazon.com in various cities in the United States like New York, Chicago, Houston, etc). It’s a nutritionally balanced food that contains prebiotics and probiotics for your pet’s optimum gut health. Kaytee’s hamster food has also been prepared to remain fresh for a long time.
Place several containers of clean water in the cage to last your hamster for two weeks. Use leak-proof containers, and ensure that the water is easy for her to reach. Make sure the water container isn’t too deep because you don’t want to risk your hamster falling and drawing in the water.
Pregnant hamsters usually eat and drink more than usual. A would-be hamster mommy stocks up on energy to provide for her pups’ needs and gain strength to give birth. However, eating and drinking more than usual isn’t a tell-tale sign of pregnancy, and you should look out for other indications.
Paying attention to your hamster’s eating patterns is also crucial for spotting the early warning signs of a disease or some imbalance in her body. Consult a vet if your pet is eating less than usual.
A pregnant hamster is protective of her space. She becomes territorial and wants to create a safe environment for herself and her pups. She may tend to hiss at you if you approach her or try to pick her up.
A few days before birthing, she may show signs of restlessness and anxiety and can alternate between eating, resting, and building her nest. The restlessness and her frenzied bouts of activity increase as she reaches the end of her pregnancy.
Related Hamsters articles:
- How To Clean Hamster Cage
- What Does a Dead Hamster Look Like?
- Why Do Hamsters Eat Their Babies
- How Long Does a Hamster Live
- Why Is My Hamster Trying To Escape?
- What Can I Give My Hamster To Chew On?
- Why Is My Hamster Itching?
Knowing the signs that your hamster is pregnant helps you support your pet. Keep the following points in mind:
- Remove your pet from other hamsters. Pregnant hamsters are territorial, and fighting with other hamsters can harm her or her unborn pups.
- Provide her with her own space where your other pets can’t disturb her.
- Don’t handle her and ask your family members not to do so as well.
- Provide her with food, water, and comfortable bedding.
- Don’t handle the pups for two weeks after they’re born.
My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more